'Tis the season for twinkling lights and buying gifts, so STEM Middle at Baldwin has planned a light show with 10,000 lights and will sell unusual gifts at the school's seventh annual Gallery Hop.

Light show

Times for the light show, now in its third year, are from dusk, around 5:30 p.m., to 7:30 p.m. Monday, Dec. 18, and Tuesday, Dec. 19, at the school, 2300 Baldwin Place.

The Gallery Hop is scheduled from 1 to 2 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 20, inside the school.

Teacher Sandy Guinto said the light show theme is "Music Through the Decades," so students chose songs from the 1950s to today, plus holiday favorites, and programmed the lights to the songs.

"It is a drive-through show that starts at the north end of the building, through the bus loop and then into the parking lot," she said. "People tune their radios to our frequency so they enjoy the music and lights from their vehicles. We do a mini indoor version during Gallery Hop on Dec. 20."

Students added more shaped props to the light show this year, including a heart, a hammer for the song, "Hammer Time," emojis, a saxophone and more.

"There are well over 10,000 lights used for the show," Guinto said. "We also have other light displays that are not part of the programmed show."

She said some people park in the lot and walk through the show instead of driving.

Students in grades five through eight chose the line-up of songs, then selected the lighted props they would need for each one.

"It can be daunting as there are only 16 channels available to be programmed for any one song, which means there is a maximum of 16 props that can be used for the entire show," Guinto said.

Some students are programmers and some are builders for the show, she said. The programmers break each song into microseconds in order to time the lighting of the props to the music, while the building crew uses 4-foot by 8-foot metal grids as a base for the props.

"Students draw the shape on graph paper, then transfer the design onto the grids," Guinto said. "From there, they attach the lights using zipties until the desired shape or design is created."

Because Baldwin is a STEM school, teachers try to give students real-world experiences with programming and building, she said.

"It has become a multigrade group that comes together to create something wonderful for the community," she said. "Students take pride in their work. The group has become its own little family, with previous students, who are now in high school, coming back to help."

Gallery Hop

Assistant Principal Amie Ladd said the Gallery Hop is "an innovative approach to teaching economics and global awareness."

"We use Gallery Hop as a transdisciplinary learning tool," she said. "Students get the opportunity to examine economic factors of production and global awareness through the creation of business plans."

She said students present business plans and persuasive speeches about their choice of charity, so they are able to practice speaking and listening skills valuable in today's global workforce.

Charities are chosen at each grade level.

Guinto said the goods offered at the event range from holiday ornaments and crafts, dreamcatchers, soaps and candles, wearable goods and toys, to Harry Potter wands.

"Our eighth-grade team is offering a multicultural food court and the sixth-grade band is hosting a virtual jukebox," she said.

Guinto said the Gallery Hop is a great way for students to use their talents to create a product to be used by the community.

"Students learn the value of philanthropy and working together to support a common goal," she said. "We love sharing these proud moments with the community and hope they are excited to see what our students have been working on."

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